130 migrants forced to remain on docked Italian coastguard vessel

Rome – Some 130 rescued migrants aboard an Italian coastguard vessel that docked in Sicily will not be allowed to disembark until Rome receives word from Brussels about how they will be distributed in the European Union.

The Gregoretti was allowed to dock overnight in the Sicilian city of Augusta, Italian Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli said on Sunday.

A pregnant woman and her husband, along with their two children, were allowed to leave the Gregoretti on Saturday, the Interior Ministry said.

Interior minister and deputy premier Matteo Salvini said Friday that other EU countries must commit to taking in the migrants before Italy will allow their disembarkation on Italian shores. The European Commission is now working on the issue.

Italy, along with Malta, Greece and Spain, has handled the lion’s share of migrants arriving in the EU via the Mediterranean in recent years – a state of affairs that these countries deem unacceptable.

The migrants were first picked up on Thursday, some of them with the help of an Italian fishing boat, the Adnkronos news agency said.

Last year, a group of 177 migrants was in a similar situation after Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini refused to allow them to disembark for nearly a week, creating a stand-off with the EU.